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CLIPPERS SEEK HELP FROM ANOTHER 'MICHAEL'

The Los Angeles Clippers finally have their Michael.

No, the Clippers don't expect Michael Olowokandi to be a superstar like Michael Jordan, but they're hopeful the rookie center will make a significant contribution during the abbreviated season, which begins Friday night.

The first pick in last summer's NBA draft, Olowokandi took part in his first Clippers practice Saturday -- a light shootaround several hours before the team's second and final exhibition game against the Los Angeles Lakers.

"He should be a help to us," Clippers forward Rodney Rogers said. "He's a big guy, that's what we're looking for. We have to get him ready to bang against NBA bodies."

Olowokandi, a 7-foot, 269-pounder, said he couldn't wait.

"I'm ecstatic to be here," said Olowokandi, who arrived in Los Angeles from Italy and signed a contract on Friday. "I'm fine, I'm healthy, I'm ready to go."

Olowokandi didn't play against the Lakers on Saturday night, and said he would take part in his first strenuous practice today.

"Once practice starts, I'll have some idea what I'm supposed to do," he said. "Hopefully, I'll be ready to play and contribute (when the season starts). I have to get more acquainted with the team and its philosophy. In due time, I think that will take place.

"We have a lot of work to do. Obviously, I want to help right away."

"It's nice to see a smile and a willingness to come out here and want to be a player," first-year Clippers coach Chris Ford said of Olowokandi. "He's a week behind the rest of his teammates. He's going to have to do much more behind the scenes. He's big, he's mobile, he looks like he's going to be a good addition to this club. We've got to get Michael ready to go as fast as we can."

Wizard released from hospital

PHILADELPHIA -- Washington Wizards forward Evric Gray was discharged from a Philadelphia hospital after he was injured during an exhibition game Friday night against the 76ers.

Wizards spokeswoman Maureen Lewis said Gray had returned home but did not play in Saturday night's game, in which the Wizards hosted the 76ers and lost, 100-88.

Gray was knocked unconscious and cut on the head during a collision under the basket. He was admitted to Methodist Hospital in Philadelphia and received a CAT scan as a precaution.

Gray was fouled by 76ers rookie Casey Shaw, whose elbow appeared to hit the top of Gray's head. Gray lay under the basket with his eyes closed for more than 10 minutes. He was fitted with a neck brace, and the top of his head was bandaged as he was lifted onto the stretcher.

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